I was thinking a couple weeks ago, what does it mean to be Kubb Capital of North America, and how can we meet any expectations of us being it. Well, two things came to mind. First, a lot of us have to play a lot of kubb, and a lot of us have to play a lot of kubb. Simple as that.
Well, I was told the other day that The Local Store is moving kubb sets at a warp speed right now. OK, perhaps not at warp speed, but as fast as a Dave Ellringer blast. The Local Store is Volume One's creation to help promote and sell all things Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley, and Wisconsin (and they do a ton for kubb). You see, kubb was featured in their holiday catalog. From what we hear, it is well over a dozen sets in just a couple weeks. Now we are talking. As we all know, one (big) barrier to get more people to play is having sets somewhere in a community where people can buy them, and not have to go online and order them. It makes me think/wonder where all these kubb sets are going. How many of these people have played before? How many are gifts? How many will play in the U.S. Championship? How many future Sunday teams will it result in? I will say this, thank goodness for Volume One and everything they are doing for kubb. They have been a big reason why kubb is growing at the pace it is right now in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley.
Random thought here:
I have no way to know how many Swedish households own kubb sets, but with nine million people and around three million households (probably a little more), even with just 10 percent of households owning a kubb set, that is 300,000 kubb sets. To me, that is a lot of kubb sets. Now, take little Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Around 68,000 people and around 27,000 households. Will we get to 10 percent household ownership? I say why not. That is 2,700 kubb sets. So, I say to kubb companies out there, bring us kubb sets. We want them. We need them. (I have no interest/knowledge in making sets. Never have. Never will. But we are here, and Mr. and Mrs. Kubb Set Company, so are a handful of other cities in the Midwest. Most of them a lot bigger than Eau Claire. What would happen if a company partnered up with Minnesota Kubb in the Twin Cities and said in five years, let's have five percent of all households have a kubb set. 3.5 million people and perhaps 1.2 million households. You do the math. It seems like a nice business plan to me.)
But back to EC, yes, a lot of us play, a whole lot more of us will be playing in the near future, and a lot of us play a lot. First criteria? Check the "yes" box.
Second, I started thinking about other sport capitals or homes. I am not going to pretend that we are the St. Andrews of kubb, but I will say this. People say that when golfers go and play in the British Open, there is something special, and there is so much respect for the great players, then I started thinking about (five-time British Open Champion) Tom Watson and how the British really took hold of him, cheered for him, and became fans of him. Why? Well, they appreciated his golfing greatness and the way he respected the game. Then I realized that was number two. a) To have players feel something special when they come here and feel like we appreciate a good kubb game and high levels of skill. b) If/when we see a top team from outside of Eau Claire keep returning to Sundays and then move to the semifinal and perhaps the Final with consistency, and do it with sportsmanship and class, which can include intensity of course (we like and can appreciate that), we will embrace them. We will nod our head in approval and say, yes, we feel/know that is kubb in its best form.
Sure, a lot of people here would like to see a bunch of EC teams play on Sunday. Me, I want a mix, and in that mix I want a Tom Watson to emerge. That would be best for kubb and it would be best for EC. You say, this will take some time? Perhaps. But I think we might be closer than some think. You see, in the early years it was Keith Yanes and Ryan Whitney and whoever they were playing with (2nd, 1st, and 4th). Keith and Ryan will always have a place in my heart and I am sure a lot of locals as well, and I am 100 percent happy that their names are on the Stapp King. I would also know I am in for a battle if I played them in Eau Claire.
But now, in this era of kubb, my obvious first thought is that Team Knockerheads has a chance to be Eau Claire's Tom Watson. Two Final appearances in two years. Year before, won their (Group of Death) group and made a good first showing. Another run into mid-morning on Sunday will make them even more of a household name here, and a team people want to sit and watch. Perhaps that is the sign as well, right? Being a team that kubb fans that are not from your hometown (no matter what tournament you are playing in) want to sit down and watch. But there are other teams with high levels of skill, good sportsmanship, and have placed high here in recent years, like Tad Kubbler. What will the next five years bring us? How about the next two or one?
So, Team Knockerheads, Tad Kubbler, and others, I am not sure if you have any interest in being little Eau Claire, Wisconsin's Tom Watson, but I really hope we find one, or one is given to us. It would be a gift to Eau Claire and a gift to kubb.